Jacob Zuma resigned as President of South Africa on Wednesday, bowing to intense pressure from his own party, the African National Congress (ANC), after nine scandal-plagued years in power.
In a farewell address to the nation, Zuma said he disagreed with the way the ANC had pushed him to an early exit after the election of Cyril Ramaphosa as party president in December, but would accept its orders, Reuters reports.
“I have therefore come to the decision to resign as president of the republic with immediate effect,” Zuma said in a 30-minute speech.
“Even though I disagree with the decision of the leadership of my organization, I have always been a disciplined member of the ANC,” said the 75-year-old leader.
The ruling party had said it would vote him out on Thursday.
“No life should be lost in my name. And also the ANC should not be divided in my name,” Zuma said.
His resignation came just hours after police raided the luxury home of the Gupta family, Indian-born billionaire allies of the president who have been at the center of corruption allegations against Zuma and his circle for years.
Zuma and the Guptas have always denied wrongdoing.
The ANC, which replaced Zuma as party leader in December with Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, ordered him to step down as president on Tuesday. When he failed to resign on Wednesday, it announced that it would back an opposition motion in parliament to force him out.
Wednesday’s resignation ends the career of the former anti-apartheid resistance fighter, who has a decades-long history of entanglement in scandals that polarized the nation.
Hours before his departure, South Africa was captivated by news of an early morning raid on the compound of his allies the Guptas, who were accused two years ago by a corruption watchdog of using their influence to gain control of state companies and contracts.
The police said the raid was in connection with a state-funded dairy farm, which prosecutors last month called a “scheme designed to defraud and steal”.
A Gupta family member is said to have been detained in the operation, and several more arrests are expected to follow.
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